Tag Archives: AU

Ethiopia: “final & crucial” military operation

Ethiopian military in Somalia have “disarmed” between 200 and 300 of their ethnic Tigray militia over the past week as conflict rages in the northern Ethiopian region, Reuters news agency reports, referring to their anonymous security and diplomatic sources.

The soldiers’ weapons were removed due to concerns over the their loyalty, the sources said, without detailing the process. They said they included bilateral and African Union troops.

The Ethiopian government, a military spokesman and African Union (AU) peacekeeping force did not react upon calls and messages of media for comment. An Ethiopian government taskforce on Wednesday, November 18, denied the authorities were targeting ethnic Tigrayans in any way.

Ethiopian troops began fighting forces from the northern region of Tigray earlier this month after what the government described as a surprise attack by Tigrayan forces on a military camp stationed there.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has declared that “the final and crucial” military operation will launch in the coming days against the government of the country’s rebellious Tigray region, France 24 television reports.

Two diplomatic sources said the disarmed men were believed to be confined to their bases in Somalia and a security source said a deputy commander in one of the military sectors was among those who had been disarmed.

Borrell : EU-AU “ambitious and creative ” partnership

Brussels, 13.11.2020 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell described the EU-Africa relationship as a strategic issue and called for a ‘modern, ambitious and creative approach going beyond the prism of the past’. The remarks have been made this afternoon while he addressed EU ambassadors in the closing session of the 2020 EU Ambassadors’ conference. The high diplomat has underlined the central role of multilateral cooperation and partnerships, notably with the African Union, along with the UN and NATO.

In his presentation, Josep Borrell said that in a competitive world, the EU needs to ‘practice the language of power, not just speak it’. Both wider political trends and the COVID-19 pandemic have required the strengthening of the EU as a political project, building a Union that acts and protects. The High Representative/Vice-President instructed EU Ambassadors to ensure an active EU in the global arena and to fly the EU flag and speak the EU’s voice.

In terms of how the EU could enhance its international impact, Josep Borrell called for making full use of all the EU’s instruments and policies and combine these to ensure coherence and build leverage. The use of the EU’s new external spending instruments should be geared towards the Union’s strategic priorities. The Team Europe approach that was born in the pandemic and which brings together the actions of EU institutions and member states, acting under one banner should become the norm everywhere.

Calling EU Member States ‘the ultimate deciders’, the High Representative/Vice-President noted the need to build trust and a common sense of purpose. The EU has to safeguard its ability to act, also when Member States are divided. This requires an honest debate on a selective use of qualified majority voting to ‘avoid paralysis and delays’.

Concluding the conference Josep Borrell has underlined the central role that multilateral cooperation and partnerships, notably with the UN, NATO, the African Union and ASEAN have played and will continue to do in the future.

The high diplomat was addressing EU Ambassadors from the EU’s 143 Delegations and Offices around the world, the heads of EU military and civilian operations and the heads of the European Commission Representations in the 27 EU Member States at the end of a week-long annual conference, which was opened by the High Representative/Vice-President on Monday 9 November.

EU officials visit to Horn of Africa

Brussels 10.10.2020 Senior European officials have concluded their two-day visit to Ethiopa visit aimed at uplifting the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) in the situation of COVID-19 pandemic.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and European commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, inspected 1.5 tons of coronavirus testing kits which were donated to Ethiopia by Germany.

This is an important expression of the European Union role in the fight against pandemic and how we do that with our partners from the African Union,” Borrell said at an airport cargo hall in Addis Ababa, surrounded by thousands of boxes containing the test kits.

Lenarcic stressed that the European Commission wants any future COVID-19 vaccine to be treated as “a global public good” which should be available to all countries irrespective of their purchasing power.

Later on Octobrr 8, Borrell met Moussa Faki, the chairperson of the AU Commission.

“… The European Union, as Africa’s close neighbour and main partner, strongly supports the African Union efforts in silencing the guns on the continent” the head of the EU diplomacy said addressing the webinar on the role of the media in promoting silencing the guns of Africa.

 

“And here, Commissioner [of the African Union for Peace and Security, Smaïl] Chergui, our cooperation aiming at sustainable peace and conflict prevention is at the top of our common agenda. It also fosters inclusive and accountable governance and recognises the role of civil society, the media, and democratic institutions”  Borrell has underlined.

“Allow me to commend the work of journalists, specifically here, in Africa, and all over the world, for their commitment to ensure that all voices calling for peace are being heard. Voices that will eventually silence the guns because they are more powerful. Your work is crucial in providing reliable and credible analysis and acting as a bridge between local communities and policy makers. I can assure you that the European Union will continue to be a strong and reliable partner in the implementation of the African Union master roadmap for silencing the guns”  the EU top diplomat Borrell said during the webinar.

In May this year the EU has provided an additional €105.5 million to countries in the Horn of Africa as the coronavirus pandemic risks worsening the humanitarian situation across the region where many continue to suffer from armed conflict, displacement, and recurrent droughts and floods. Furthermore, a large-scale infestation of locusts threatens food security and livelihoods of many vulnerable people in the region.

Funding from this aid package to humanitarian projects in Djibouti (€500,000), Ethiopia (€42 million), Kenya (€15 million) and Somalia (€48 million).

The Gambia: EU concerns over constitution review

“The European Union has been at the forefront of support to the democratic transition in The Gambia since 2017 and to the reforms aiming at entrenching democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Over the last months, it has observed with growing concern a marked slowdown in the pace of the reform process and in particular noted the recent important setback with the rejection of the draft new Constitution. It is key for the 2021 Presidential elections to take place on the basis of a new social contract” reads the statement of the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell.

“The constitutional review process is linked to other pillars of the democratic transition, in particular the transitional justice process with the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), as well as the Security Sector Reform (SSR). It therefore remains important to lay the foundations for the follow-up of these processes. Moreover, taking forward other significant reforms, such as the revision of the Public Order Law, media and access to information laws prior to the 2021 Presidential elections, requires decisive Government action.

“The European Union calls upon the Government to take the lead in building the necessary national consensus around the future direction of the democratic transition, with a new Constitution at its core”  the EU top diplomat wrote.

In December 2017, the National Assembly of the Gambia had established a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to draft a new statute book to replace the 1997 constitution, which many analysts believed had many undemocratic provisions. This constitution had been drafted three years after a military coup led by Yahya Jammeh, who amid high drama was overthrown, by a seven-party political alliance loosely called Coalition 2016.

But since then Gambian President Adama Barrow has walked out from the coalition that brought him to power and has launched his political party he National People’s Party (NPP).

Experts say that that the country’s transition that received praise from the international community and counted as one of the successes of post-dictatorial democratic transition on the rocks. They say, that democracy has become trapped under the complexities of power struggle.

After registering his new party in January, Barrow made it clear that he plans to run for president again in 2021, although he indicated when he was elected that he would be a one-term president.

The constitution bill would have created a two term limit, with the President serving five years per term. A clause in the bill for a transitional president, such as Barrow, would have his current term counted as one term.

Urpilainen: Team Europe initiatives

Brussels: Statement by Commissioner Urpilainen during the Informal Meeting of Development Ministers 29/09/2020:

“Despite the postponement of the Summit, we must keep the momentum in our engagement with African partners. We still have a lot of work to engage and agree on key issues.

How we can use the time ahead to deliver at the Summit? I would like to put forward three ideas.

First, a coordinated outreach: we have already set important platforms to stimulate discussions. And at the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday, Ministers expressed their readiness to intensify the political outreach to African partners and I am sure you will be part of it too. I welcome this decision and we could design a coordinated process.

Secondly, we should use the time to properly reflect, together with our African partners, on how we can turn the priorities into concrete deliverables.

For example, an important deliverable could be a comprehensive investment package, linked to the SDGs.

Furthermore, we can take forward the issue of debt, and I would suggest we have this discussion jointly with our colleagues the Ministers of Finance, as it is only if we act together that we could have real influence.

My third and final point is that our best shot at delivering on our ambitions is of course as Team Europe. Of the global Team Europe response to COVID-19, almost EUR 7 billion, excluding guarantees, will go to Africa. And let us not forget the impressive work Team Europe has done on vaccines initiatives or the G20-Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

Our services, including on the ground in Africa, have started to work very closely to identify possible Team Europe Initiatives that should allow us to have real transformative impact and become a partner of reference.

Those Team Europe Initiatives are guided by the priorities outlined in the Joint Communication on a Strategy with Africa, which remain valid.

To further give political impetus I would like to propose that we write together co-signed letters to our Embassies and Delegations in partner countries to consolidate and strengthen Team Europe in the next programming phase”.

EU: Post-Cotonou informal discussion

Brussels 29.09.2020 The African Union – European Union partnership, post-Cotonou agreement were on the top of the agenda of the informal meeting of EU Development Ministers the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has chaired today.

Within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller, together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, hosted an informal meeting of EU Development Ministers. One important issue for discussion was be the EU’s future relations with Africa. The meeting has also served as basis in preparation of the Formal Meeting of EU Development Ministers in November. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting took place virtually via tele-conference.

#SOTEU: africa-EU KEY parTNER

Brussels, 16.09.2020. In the annual State of the European Union #SOTEU address the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen devoted special attention to the bloc partnership with African countries:
“”When I came into office, I chose for the very first trip outside the European Union, to visit the African Union, and it was a natural choice. It was a natural choice and it was a clear message, because we are not just neighbours, we are natural partners,” the European Commission president von der Leyen said.
“Three months later, I returned with my entire College to set our priorities for our new strategy with Africa. It is a partnership of equals, where both sides share opportunities and responsibilities.

“Africa will be a key partner in building the world we want to live in – whether on climate, digital or trade”.
The State of the European Union #SOTEU debate is a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives. It focuses on important issues like the coming economic recovery, climate change, youth unemployment and migration flows. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. Citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, MEPs have taken stock of the von der Leyen Commission’s achievements to date.
Ursula Von der Leyen has outlined the impact of the Commission’s work in mitigating the COVID-19 sanitary and economic crisis, and shared her vision for economic recovery, fighting climate change, and the situation in Europe’s neighbourhood.
Political group leaders have assessed the Commission’s work and set out their views, as this annual State of the Union debate is a chance for MEPs to scrutinise the work and the plans of the European Commission and help set the future direction for the EU.
The debate started with an address by President von der Leyen, followed by several rounds of interventions by political group speakers between which Ms von der Leyen answered to MEPs. The German Council Presidency also took the floor.

EU: Mali National Assembly enables way out of crisis

Presidents from five West African countries arrive in Mali on July 23 in an attempt to negotiate an end to a political crisis that affected the country and raised concerns it could undermine a regional security, and ongoing struggle against jihadists armed groups.

Endemic corruption, disputed local election results and army losses to jihadists cause massive indignation of Malians, when tens of thousands have taken to the streets,  clashing with police. The episodes of urban violence caused death of protesters in July, according to the United Nations.

The opposition, a group called M5-RFP  led by Saudi-trained Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko, announced it will not quit until President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita steps down, raising concerns in neighboring countries of a protracted political crisis.

M5-RFP demands the resignation of Keita or the satisfaction of our demands,” which include the establishment of a committee of inquiry into civilian deaths and a transitional government, the spokesperson Nouhoum Togo told international reporters.

The leaders of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana and Niger will meet with Keita and then Dicko and other opposition leaders at a hotel in the capital Bamako, according to the mission schedule.

They are concerned of the danger a destabilisation of Mali poses to the entire region of Sahel,  plagued by activities of militia linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State attacking neighbouring countries including Niger and Burkina Faso.

Public opposition to Keita has changed to harder tones after protesters were killed by police in early July.

The M5-RFP rejected mediation measures proposed by a mission from the West African ECOWAS bloc last week.

The European diplomacy has issued a statement, supporting the African Union efforts to find a solution for the protracted political crisis:

“The good offices mission of President Goodluck Jonathan, at the head of an ECOWAS delegation in Bamako, made it possible to move forward towards a framework of concrete and politically balanced solutions.

“The European Union joins the African Union Declaration of July 21 and encourages all political actors and civil society to fully engage in the implementation of the recommendations of the ECOWAS mission. The re-establishment of a legitimate National Assembly and a Government of National Union will enable Mali to overcome the current crisis.

“The European Union deplores the large number of deaths and injuries following the demonstrations in Bamako on Friday July 10 and the following days. It offers its condolences to the relatives of the victims, calls for an investigation to be carried out as soon as possible and for legal proceedings to be taken against those responsible”.

Towards stronger EU-Africa partnership

The Council today approved conclusions on Africa, restating the paramount importance of a stronger EU-Africa partnership.

The conclusions note that Joint Communication Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa constitutes an excellent basis on which to initiate a new ambitious partnership with Africa. The next EU-AU Summit will be a pivotal moment for renewing a comprehensive joint strategic approach that delivers on these aspirations.

The conclusions underline that a prosperous, peaceful and resilient Africa is an essential EU foreign policy objective, and that the EU is determined to strengthen its relationship with the African states and the African Union, in a way that is responsive both to European and African aspirations.

Such closer partnership should focus in particular on: multilateralism, peace, security and stability, sustainable and inclusive development, and sustainable economic growth.

The conclusions highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the need for a global response and a strong EU-Africa partnership. Recovery is an opportunity to build back better, greener and more resilient societies.

Finally the conclusions highlight that, working towards a joint strategy based on common objectives, the EU looks forward to stepping up an open and inclusive exchange with citizens, civil society, diaspora, young people, the private sector and top-level thinkers and decision-makers from both continents.

Image: archive Europa building, Brussels

Borrell on Mali stability risks

“The political crisis which has been shaking Mali for several weeks is carrying risks for the stability of the country and the region” reads the statement of the Euorpean Union top diplomat Josep Borrell.


“The European Union welcomes the peaceful nature of the protests and the willingness of all political actors to maintain the dialogue in order to reach a broad consensus on the future of Mali.

“The European Union fully supports the good offices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which dispatched a high-level mission to the country, as well as the proposals to end the crisis contained in its press release. press of June 19.
“The European Union joins the United Nations and the African Union in calling on all actors to dialogue and restraint. We encourage the authorities to quickly take decisions that will make it possible to overcome the crisis, in particular on post-electoral disputes”.
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